Life is pretty hectic. At work, there is a constant pressure to perform. At home, especially with children around, there is an endless stream of stuff that needs to be done. Doing, doing, doing.
To keep our head above water, we turn to To Do lists. Makes sense, right? Yes and no. To Do lists can help us increase our focus and productivity. But rarely do they give us peace of mind.
In fact, achieving goals and finalising tasks simply creates space for…more goals and tasks. To Do lists keep us locked in an endless cycle of pressure, haste, stress, and, let’s face it, dissatisfaction.
Becoming who you are intended to be
The solution is not fancier productivity methodologies such as GTD and Pomodoro. Doing is a means, not an end. It’s a means not to achieving and performing, but a means to becoming who you are intended to be.
In working with leaders and private clients, I have found that, deep down, each knows with perfectly clarity what that is. It takes some digging, healing and letting go of the needs and expectations of others, but eventually they know.
And what they want to be is not things like famous, accomplished, or a great leader. It goes deeper, more fundamental:
- I want to be seen and heard
- I want to be at peace
- I want to be kind and accepting
- I want to love and be loved
- I want to be of service
- I want to be connected
- I want to be open
- I want to belong
- I want to be whole
- I want to be true to myself
Deep down, you also know who and how you want to be in this life.
It is something that is contained within your core, your true self, the source of your values, gifts and mission. It has always been there and it always will, regardless of what you do.
To know what it is, you need to stop and pay attention. Listen with your heart wide open, with all your senses, with your entire body. Especially the body. Because the kind of knowing that I am talking about is embodied and experienced within.
And for that kind of deep listening to occur, it needs to be quiet. Real quiet, within and around you.
And that is hard when your endless To Do list is clamouring for attention. More this. More that. More striving, performing, pushing.
To be list
So perhaps it is time for a different list. Not a list of things you need to do, but a list of ways in which you want to be, now, later, in all instances.
It is time for a To Be list.
This is a master list of who and how we want to be, at the level of our being.
What it is we want to have left when everything physical and external is stripped away, when we let go of action and we are not attached to any outcome.
A list of inner states that we want to embody, not for a short moment, but for the rest of our lives.
States that are inherently good, that bring peace and purpose to ourselves and the world.
If this appeals to you, you may want to make your own To Be list.
Find a quiet place, switch off your phone, take your attention inside and allow it to drift on the question: who or how do I want to be?
Write down whatever comes up. It doesn’t need to be complete or perfect, it doesn’t need to come with a plan and it doesn’t have to make sense.
Remember: there is nothing to accomplish or prove. Let the list be as it is. Let it evolve over time and let it guide you and inspire you.
Allow it to remind you of what is really important in life, especially when adding more and more items to your To Do list.
Have fun with this little experiment.
And if you don’t do it right away, make sure you add it to your To Do list 🙂
Ilja van Roon.
P.S. If you have a sense of how or who you want to be, you may be called upon to go on a Hero’s Journey.